Previously, we took a look at and recapped the Las Vegas Raiders’ offseason, giving over all of the Raiders’ big moves from hiring a new head coach and general manager in Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to trading for Davante Adams. It certainly was a wild few months in Las Vegas, however, despite all of the changes our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have the line for the Raiders' win total set at just 8.5 in 2022.
So, now we’re going to dive deeper into all of the Raiders' moving parts from the offseason and determine how much these changes will impact the team’s performance on the field, and ultimately, their record at the end of the season. Hopefully, everyone will be able to cash in those over tickets come February.
With this being Ziegler’s first year as a general manager, it’s tough to say or predict how much of an impact he’ll have on the field this season, especially since a GM’s work is primarily done in the offseason.
He’s already brought in a couple of top-tier veterans like Adams and edge rusher Chandler Jones, which has inspired the fanbase’s confidence in him and should help the team pick up a few more W’s than last season. Of course, a similar statement can be said about this year’s draft class, but with the highest draft pick being a third-rounder, it’ll be hard to hold it against him if the rookies don’t hit the ground running.
Ziegler’s biggest impact from now until January will be finding veterans to replace the inevitable injuries to a key player(s). It happens to just about every team every year, and luckily for the Silver and Black, the former Patriots director of pro personnel has experience doing just that.
Given his background as an offensive coordinator and the expectation that he’ll still be calling plays, McDaniels’ biggest impact on the Raiders will be on offense. That should be a welcomed sight for Raider Nation as his system’s numbers over the last four years are more impressive than the previous regime’s.
Under McDaniels, the Patriots' offense ranked fifth, 15th, 27th and 15th in yards from 2018 to 2021 with the outlier coming in 2020, when they had a banged-up Cam Newton under center. During that same timeframe, Jon Gruden’s and Greg Olson’s offenses finished 23rd, 11th, eighth and 11th. So, Vegas might move the ball in 2022 as much as it has been in recent years, but putting points on the board is where people can expect to see a significant change.
New England scored the fourth-most points in the league in 2018, and the seventh-most in 2019 before dropping down to 27th the following year and ending last season in sixth place. Meanwhile, the Raiders ranked in the top 10 once over the last four years — 10th in 2020 — finishing in 28th, 24th and 18th in the other three seasons.
The biggest reason for the wide scoring gap is success in the red zone. Last year, the Pats were the seventh-best team at scoring touchdowns inside the 20 with about a 63.1 percent rate, while the Raiders were the fourth-worst at 49.2 percent. In 2018, the gap between the two clubs was smaller as New England ranked 12th by converting about 62.9 percent of opportunities and Las Vegas was 22nd at about 53.5 percent.
Granted, the Raiders were slightly better in 2019 and 2020, 52.9 percent to 49.2 percent and 54.2 percent to 54.1 percent, but the Patriots still managed to score more points in 2019 and were dealing with quarterback issues in 2020.
New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham should have a significant impact as well.
Graham’s first year as a DC wasn’t pretty as the Dolphins ranked 30th in yards and 32nd in points allowed, while also finishing 28th in turnovers created. However, the following year with the Giants was a completely different story as his unit allowed the 12th-fewest yards and ninth-fewest points, due in part to their 22 turnovers that were the 10th-most in the league.
The Giants did regress last season, ranking 21st, 23rd and 14th in yards, points and turnovers, respectively, but they still managed to out-pace the Raiders in every category but yards surrendered.
In 2019, the Raiders were in their second season in Paul Guenther’s system and finished in 19th place for yards allowed, 24th for points and 31st in turnovers generated. The following year was a combination of Guenther and Rod Marinelli and the results were even more disastrous, ranking 25th, 30th and 30th in the three categories. Gus Bradley was at least able to keep opponents from moving the ball with the 14th-fewest yards allowed, but his group still allowed the 26th-most points and ranked 29th in turnovers.
Long story short, expect to see Las Vegas do a much better job of putting up points and keeping other teams off the scoreboard with the new men in charge.
Notable additions and departures
Until Hunter Renfrow accomplished the feat last season, the Raiders hadn’t had a wide receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree both did it in 2016.
Meanwhile, Adams has racked up at least 1,300 yards three times in the last four years, with a 997-yard performance in 12 games during the 2019 campaign as his only “off” year. Minus that injury-plagued season, he’s also had at least 10 touchdowns every year since 2016, which the Raiders haven’t gotten from their receiving corps since Tim Brown had 11 in 2000.
In other words, the former Packer should give the Silver and Black’s passing attack a significant boost.
Replacing Yannick Ngakoue will be the Raiders' other big addition from this offseason, Jones. The latter only had half a sack more than the former last season, and Ngakoue did rack up 63 pressures to Jones’ 47.
However, that likely had to do with Ngakoue getting more free rushes or one-on-one blocks as the Raiders' second rusher while Jones drew the majority of opponents’ attention as Arizona’s top rusher. Their PFF pass rush grades support this — 87.7 for Jones and 65.0 for Ngakoue — as well as their win rates — 14.0 percent to 13.1 percent. This also serves as an example of how the former Cardinal can impact Vegas’ defense beyond the stat sheet, by taking some attention away from Maxx Crosby.
Undoubtedly, the Silver and Black will miss cornerback Casey Hayward, but the drop-off in production from him to Rock Ya-Sin isn’t terribly steep. Hayward finished the regular season with the 21st-best PFF coverage grade (75.0) among cornerbacks, while Ya-Sin was just two spots behind with a 72.4 grade.
Both players were credited with seven forced incompletions, but the former Colt did so at a higher rate when comparing their targets — 15 to 13 percent. However, Hayward did allow fewer yards per coverage snap — 0.57 to 0.63 — and fewer receptions per coverage snap — 21.0 to 14.5. That being said, Hayward led the entire league in the latter category and Ya-Sin came in at No. 10.
Again, a downgrade but not a significant one for the Raiders.
As far as the draft class goes, it’s hard to expect that they’ll contribute much with the highest-drafted player being a third-round pick. Dylan Parham could wind up winning a starting guard spot, but he’ll most likely begin the season as a reserve where his versatility to play all five positions could be an asset. A similar statement could be said about Thayer Munford, who played both guard and tackle in college.
If McDaniels continues to deploy the Patriots' strategy of using several running backs throughout the season, we could see Zamir White in a similar role to Rhamondre Stevenson’s from last season. Stevenson had 133 carries for 606 rushing yards and five touchdowns to go along with 14 receptions and 123 receiving yards as a rookie.
The two defensive tackles, Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler, probably have the clearest paths to playing time seeing as Las Vegas has an open competition at defensive tackle. However, both have been working with the second and third teams in training camp, so their year one impact might be minimal.
When it comes to Brittain Brown, he has an uphill battle to make the final roster. Las Vegas has a plethora of backs so he feels destined for the practice squad.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for, the record prediction that trumps all other predictions and will undoubtedly be 100 percent correct by the season’s end.
- Week 1 @ Los Angeles Chargers: Win, 24-22
- Week 2 vs. Arizona Cardinals: Win, 30-10
- Week 3 @ Tennessee Titans: Win, 24-14
- Week 4 vs. Denver Broncos: Win, 31-30
- Week 5 @ Kansas City Chiefs (MNF): Loss, 35-28
- Week 6 Bye
- Week 7 vs. Houston Texas: Win, 38-13
- Week 8 @ New Orleans Saints: Loss, 25-23
- Week 9 @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Win, 28-20
- Week 10 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Loss, 27-24
- Week 11 @ Denver Broncos: Loss, 23-20
- Week 12 @ Seattle Seahawks: Win, 31-10
- Week 13 vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Loss, 35-30
- Week 14 @ Los Angeles Rams (TNF): Win, 24-21
- Week 15 vs. New England Patriots (SNF): Win, 27-20
- Week 16 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Christmas Eve): Win, 31-3
- Week 17 vs. San Francisco 49ers: Win, 28-27
- Week 18 vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Win, 31-28